Shire 3 CS Strollers 3: Rodgers' record hat-trick little consolation for dropped points
His son may have got himself another match ball as an early Christmas present but that was the furthest thing from Andy Rodgers' mind at Ochilview on Saturday.
The East Stirlingshire striker created a bit of club history against Civil Service Strollers by becoming the fifth player in as many games to score a hat-trick, breaking a long-standing record.
But that was of little consequence compared to the two dropped Lowland League points which left Shire even further adrift of leaders East Kilbride in their title quest.
And Rodgers knew full well that they had no-one to blame but themselves. “The second half was just unacceptable,” he said of a 3-1 interval lead that was thrown away with a disastrous second half display. “It was rotten, to be honest. Absolutely rotten.
“It shouldn’t happen. We were 3-1 up at home and it should have been more but we came out in the second half and we were slack all over the park. We just didn’t want it enough and that’s what hurts. They wanted it more than us and they deserved their point because of that.”
Certainly Shire’s opponents, who were game enough in the first half, looked out of things by the time referee Crawford Allan blew his whistle to end the first period.
The visitors had started off at a lick and had taken the lead through a tidy Russell McLean finish after three minutes but Shire had assumed control after three Rodgers goals in the next 20 minutes.
By half-time Shire were unfortunate not to have scored three more and the faithful tucked into their half-time pies anticipating a feast of second period goals.
But Shire didn’t look to have much of an appetite once they re-emerged and Strollers did what any team would do in the circumstances – they had a go.
And after Steven Froude’s header from a corner hit the post after 61 minutes they sensed an opportunity. Another corner after 69 minutes allowed McLean to set up Shaun Campbell to reduce the leeway with a close-range shot and Shire then fell apart at the seams.
Just over 60 seconds later McLean hit a terrific shot that struck the inside of the post and David Churchill collected the rebound to shoot home the equalising goal.
After that Shire rode their luck for a point – McLean should have burst the net but blazed over and Chris Milligan’s injury-time effort just cleared the crossbar.
“We only have ourselves to blame,” conceded Rodgers. “We just need to forget about it and move on to next week. “We maybe can’t go out every week and play great, free-flowing football but when you have a 3-1 lead you should be professional enough to see it through.
“In the worst case scenario, if you are poor in the second half then you should at least make sure you win 3-1,” said Rodgers.
Strollers made an adventurous start and were rewarded when McLean was left unmarked at the back post to curl a shot into the top corner after three minutes.
But their joy was short-lived. Jamie Glasgow was brought down inside the box after six minutes and Rodgers scored from the penalty spot. After quarter of an hour Rodgers glanced home a Paul Sludden free-kick from wide on the left to put Shire in front and after 24 minutes Rodgers’ own free-kick was blasted straight into the defensive wall only for the Shire striker to fire the rebound powerfully into the net.
David Grant dragged a shot wide when he ought to have scored, a Sludden cross flew across goal when even the slightest of touches from Grant would have made it 4-1, and then Sludden pounced on a terrible passback only to see his goal-bound effort hacked off the line.
There was no reason to suspect anything different in the second half. What happened though was a real tale of the unexpected.
SHIRE : Barclay, A Grant, Allison (Ramsay 75), Oliver, Greene, Faulds, Rodgers, Ure, D Grant, Sludden, Glasgow (White 67).